I will be honest. You cannot get much of a record player for only a $50 budget. That being said, I have a decent review of a unit that, after a little fussing around, can be made acceptable for those who are on a tight budget. And the beautiful part of all of this is that it will play 78 RPM records, although not fantastically (more on that in my review). But if you have some pre-1950s vinyl laying around, you are in luck!
If you are a busy individual and want to get straight to the point, then my selection for the best record player under 50 currently is the Jensen JTA-230.
USB Port and Software Included to Convert Vinyl to MP3
I am not sure many people will use this feature, but you do not see this feature in products under the $50 range. The USB port along with the software enables you to record, edit, and convert your vinyl to MP3s on your computer in case you wanted to digitize your collection. The downfall of this is that the software is compatible with Windows only (sorry Mac users), and quite frankly the USB cable’s length is not sufficient. I would have liked to have seen a longer one included, but again, with the price range, you can not expect much more than what you are getting. You can always use the money you saved to purchase a longer USB cable.
Easy to Use
The stand-out feature of this unit is that it is simple to setup and enjoy in a matter of minutes. While the built-in speaker is not the best in the world, it gets the job done and would be suitable for most non-audiophiles. That leaves me with a word of caution if you are indeed an audiophile you might want to steer clear of this record player. It is not bad per se, but I would not want to lead you down the wrong path and recommend something that you would not enjoy. The Jensen JTA-230 is perfect for a student, someone new to the hobby, someone on a budget, or someone who has not had a record player in years and is looking to enjoy their vinyl collection again.
Plays all 3-Speeds – (Small Caveat)
Out of the box, this will play 33-1/3, 45, and 78 RPM records. However, the stylus is only 0.7 Mil. Typically, for a 78, the stylus should be 3 Mil. This will still work for 78s. However, you won’t exactly get the best sound. The needle will sit lower in the grooves, and you will get more noise and distortion than what was originally intended. To truly play 78s with this unit, you should replace the 0.7 Mil stylus with a 3 Mil one so that it fits in the grooves of the 78 better. The problem with doing that is it is a relatively sizable job to swap the 0.7 Mil for a 3 Mil.
Honestly, I would not recommend it. I feel like constantly swapping needles back and forth would be a tall task. I would stick with the 0.7 Mil stylus, and if you have an occasional 78 you want to listen to, deal with other distortion that comes along with it. If you have an extensive collection of 78s, I would recommend getting a 3 Mil stylus and making this a dedicated 78 record player. It is affordable enough to purchase for that particular reason.
Features and Specifications
- Dimensions: 13.4 x 13.8 x 6.4 inches
- Weight: 5.5 pounds
- Belt Driven 3-Speed Stereo Turntable 33/45/78 RPM with Stereo Speaker System
- USB Port with Cable included for Converting Vinyl Records to Digital Format, with Software Included for Recording, Editing and Converting Your Audio Content to MP3 Format
- Auxiliary Input Jack for Connecting Your iPod, MP3 or other Digital Audio Players. Includes RCA Line-out Jacks and Stereo Headphone Jack
- Pitch Control for Adjusting the Record Speed; Volume Control, Tone Control
- Power Indicator, Auto Stop Switch, Dust Cover. Power: AC 120V 60Hz.
The Jensen JTA-230 is a modern unit with an overwhelming majority of the reviews being positive. There are some complaints about the built-in speakers, but you do have the option of connecting the Jensen JTA-230 to your powered speakers (or headphones). But most people seem content with the built-in speakers. Particularly for a small room or small office. The Jensen is a system that you can build up over-time, making it your own.
When I think of a device like this, I think of all of the value that is being offered and everything that is packed into it for the affordable price. It contains some features that you do not see until you get into units that are 3x this amount. Audiophiles excluded, I would have no problem recommending this as my top pick for the best record player under 50 for the vast majority of people. Especially (but not limited to) students or individual just getting started with the hobby.
That being said, if you have a bit more to spend, please check out my review of the best record player for under 100. While it does not have some features that this model has, the build quality is a lot better.